Monday, November 10, 2008

Shotgun Shoulder... something that sooner or later effects all of us who shoot a 12 gauge shotgun. Brendan and I went to the range today. We wanted to try out the Remington 870 shotgun and the Marlin 336 in .35 Remington at a range of only 25 yards. A range somewhere between 25 and 50 yards will be the likely average distance for a shot this deer hunting season. As it turned out, Brendan shot the 12 gauge first, with full power loads. We only use 2 3/4" shells as opposed to 3 inch magnum shells, this because the gun is only chambered for them. Still though, a full power 2 3/4" 12 gauge slug gives one heck of a kick. After just a few rounds Brendan was complaining that his shoulder hurt. I try to get him to hold it the way I learned so it will not hurt, but it got him good today.

My method, the one taught to me and not one I created, is to stand square to the target, then mount the butt of the shotgun in the v formed at the end of the collar bone where it goes into the shoulder joint by raising the trigger hand elbow high as you seat the butt. I wind up with only about a couple inches of the bottom of the stock actually against my shoulder. This happens because as I mount the gun to my shoulder, I also mount it to my cheek. I do not lower my cheek to the side of the butt stock, but raise the gun to my cheek. I pull back firmly to hold it in place, step forward with my left foot (I am right handed) leaning into the gun, and then fire when all else is ready. If the gun stays in the notch I described, then there is little pain from the recoil if any. The pain from recoil usually comes from the butt being placed against muscle. Of course if you do not get it right, or if you shoot and the recoil causes the butt to come out of the notch and you do not reset before the next shot - OUCH. I'll have to see how firmly Brendan pulls the gun into the notch. I think he must not be pulling it back firmly enough because it happens fairly often that he hurts his shoulder. I don't want him getting bursitis or arthritis when it can be avoided by better technique. I'll also be purchasing Remington's new recoil pad when I can find one, supposed to greatly reduce felt recoil.

In the short video I have embedded, you can see the effects of Shotgun Shoulder and how it makes Brendan react after shooting the Marlin 336. The Marlin has some kick, the .35 Remington is no puny round, but the kick has never hurt before. Watch the video and tell me if you think it hurt him after the first shot. By the way, he was wrong when he said he thought he did not hit the target. He hit it almost dead center. He was using the scope set at either 4 or 6X, we usually shoot with it at 10X, but getting ready for the hunt I lowered the power. Easier to acquire a target at the lower setting when out in the woods, and more than enough magnification for a good shot. I would have shown you the target, both shots were within about 1/2" of each, but I ran out of memory in the camera as I was shooting the video.

Did you spot the effects of shotgun shoulder? Brendan does not normally shake off the pain like he did after that first shot. Had he not fired the shotgun several times beforehand there would have been no such reaction. By the way, note where his right elbow is when he holds the rifle. Up high, but not quite high enough to form that good notch I was talking about. The elbow should almost be pointing somewhat upwards for the shotgun (I don't recommend holding it up for a rifle).

Hopefully all Brendan will need is one shot with the Remington 870 during our deer hunt. The area we plan to hunt first is a shotgun or handgun only area. He had a one shot kill on his bear hunt, and I think if he sees a deer that presents a shot he will shoot just as well.

All the best,